Against Me! at Concord Music Hall
It’s tempting to say that Against Me!, to quote Churchill, is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma;” but they’re not. They’re a punk band. Yes, the frontman is now a frontwoman, but that doesn’t affect the live show they put on in any way. That’s never been more clear than it was at their Red Bull Sound Select official Riot Fest Aftershow at Concord Music Hall.
Against Me! is still loud as fuck. The band might have some new members, but the chemistry they possess on stage makes it seem as if they’ve been playing together since Tom Gabel wrote “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” over a decade ago. Laura Jane Grace will always be the focal point of the band, but a lead vocalist and guitar play does not make a band. You absolutely need those elements to tie everything together and Bowman on guitar, Johansson on bass and Willard on drums tie everything together.
The larger point here is that an eight ball of cocaine, an ounce of weed and the open road sound the same regardless of who you’re looking at. Against Me! is still the same awesome punk band you moshed to during “Thrash Unreal” ages ago even if the lead singer has longer hair, a blacked out arm and high heels. If anything, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is the most punk rock that Against Me! has been in ages. I mean, have you listened to the lyrics in “FUCKMYLIFE666” recently? That song is the definition of punk rock. But I digress.
Bathed in the ridiculous lights of Concord Music hall, and drowned out by an audience that could barely keep their shit together, Against Me! was a perfectly realized vision of punk rock. Even after tearing up Riot Fest earlier in the day, Laura Jane Grace didn’t lose a beat bringing the wrecking ball that is her undeniably familiar voice. In other words, meet the new thing, same as the old thing. If you’re a fan of Against Me! you should have been at this show because it was pretty similar to the all the other Against Me! shows that you loved… but it was at Concord. If you’re not a fan of Against Me! then you can just fuck right off because clearly you don’t like punk rock.
The point is, unless The Ramones come back, Against Me! is the closest thing any of us has to a dictionary definition of “punk rock” that we can see live, in concert.